The state\u2019s two largest investor-owned utilities have opposite stances on whether regulators should continue the ratepayer-funded surcharge to support state renewable and energy efficiency research and development. Southern California Edison called it \u201cneither necessary nor appropriate,\u201d while Pacific Gas & Electric supports its continuation, albeit with heavy input from private utilities going forward, they wrote in Oct. 25 comments to the California Public Utilities Commission. At the end of the last legislative session, lawmakers failed to reauthorize the public goods charge that funds clean energy research and development at the California Energy Commission and CPUC. Questions about customer benefits and program inefficiencies were raised at a series of legislative hearings debating bills to reauthorize the public goods program. Subsequently, the CPUC announced it would step in and administratively continue the $250 million\/year program via higher utility rates (Current, Oct. 21, 2011). The public purpose program entails a 1.5 percent surcharge on electricity bills to fund state programs to advance energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy research. Regulators\u2019 authority to continue the surcharge has been challenged since they opened a rulemaking Oct. 7 to keep the surcharge going following the lack of legislative authorization. Edison asserts the CPUC lacks statutory authority to continue the surcharge. In last week\u2019s filing, the utility argues it would constitute a tax and a new rate imposed outside the proper process in violation of customers\u2019 due process rights. Edison also points to the surge in renewable energy offers it has received, arguing the clamor for contracts demonstrates that the alternative energy industry no longer needs subsidies. Pacific Gas & Electric sees no problem with regulators continuing to fund the 14-year old renewable and efficiency research and development effort. PG&E backs San Diego Gas & Electric\u2019s position calling for the utilities to be \u201cheavily involved in governance of the continued funding.\u201d The two also call for measures to protect Energy Commission efficiency funds from being raided by the Legislature. Legislation was passed to allow the state to divert to the general fund $155 million of natural gas efficiency program funds--which is separate from the $250 million public goods charge. Both PG&E and Edison object to continuing ratepayer subsidies of biomass energy contracts. \u201cCompensation for any broad-based social benefits to biomass energy production should be paid for by benefiting parties rather than an additional charge levied on ratepayers,\u201d argues PG&E.